Dan Dolby of the mighty Trepanation Recordings took some time out to talk to us. Rodge: Hi Dan. So why did you decide to start Trepanation Recordings?
Dan: My main reason was to provide a platform for the number of crazy talented bands and musicians within the underground that are criminally overlooked, be it due to them not being established in the live circuit or having a certain number of followers on social media.
Rodge: What is your main goal for Trepanation Recordings?
Dan: Short-term, to keep making enough money from releases to fund future releases. ;) In all honestly, I admire labels such as Amphetamine Reptile who carved out a niche in a scene that they wee passionate about and gave quality bands their first 'break', for want of a better word. I'd love all of my roster to achieve big things and if I can help them along the way, I'll be happy.
Rodge: Can you give us the history of the label? First steps, first signings, what it was like to build it up?
Dan: Trepanation was started in April 2019, partly as a label for the debut Catafalque album. I knew it was good (not trying to be big headed) but there was less than zero chance for us having the album released by a label as we had no one had heard of us and we're not the easiest listening experience. I'd ran a fairly successful noise netlabel in the past, Throne of Bael, and wanted to start a label that also produced professionally made CD and cassette releases. Starting with the debut Catafalque album also gave me the opportunity to learn from any mistakes without risking anyone elses baby! Turned out to have been a solid idea as I've long sold out of the physical variant and get a number of people contacting for a repress!
Rodge: Can you tell us about any specific moments that really stand out to you? Best moment so far?
Dan: Best moment would be signing Still. They were the first band I approached as I knew how good they were and deserved to be heard. Thankfully they didn't laugh in my face and they let me release 'Reprieve'!
Rodge: What’s the biggest challenge you think Trepanation Recordings has overcome?
Dan: Possibly Royal Mail refusing to deliver the packaging for the Bogwych cassette as it was deemed suspicious. It resulted in 2 weeks delay to the cassettes being shipped which bummed me out as I like everyone to have their pre-orders on the day of release at the latest.
Rodge: If you could sign anyone who would you sign?
Dan: Nadja. Hands down. SO FUCKING GOOD!
Rodge: How do you find your acts? Do you find them and approach them, or do you accept submissions, or both?
Dan: It's a combination of both really. If I've played with a band I particularly enjoyed I'll approach them. I'm totally open to submissions too but I think I frustrate people with how long it takes me to make a decision as I need to listen a fair few times over a couple of weeks (that way I can listen in various frames of mind).
Rodge: What perks your ears up musically? Is there a certain criteria you look for in an artist?
Dan: They need to take pride in the sound quality of their work and be inventive. There's zero point sending me a black metal album recorded on a boombox as I get no pleasure listening to things like that. I'm not into the Stoner scene at all. No disrespect to the bands, who are all technically proficient, but I can't tell their riffs apart. It all sounds too safe to me. Noise music for example can be punishing but it doesn't have to sound like shit. Most noise artists I know take pride in the dynamics of their releases and spend a lot of time mulling frequencies over. I like that attention to detail.
Rodge: The world of physical release formats seems like a constantly changing landscape. What have you noticed about demand for physical releases? What is your preferred format to release music on and why?
Dan: Every band wants their music on vinyl but I'm not interested in risking bankrupting the label for a solitary release. That's why I've so far steered clear. Cassettes seem to shift quicker than CDs but I'm a CD man through and through. ;)
Rodge: What are your thoughts on co-releasing with other labels, especially for more expensive formats such as vinyl? Are there any other considerations or bright ideas you’ve had about making higher-investment releases possible?
Dan: I'm always open in collaborating with other labels. As long as they share my ethics, let's chat, as far as I'm concerned. Any labels out there with any interesting proposals, hit me up!!!
Rodge: Is there anything you’d like to see more of in the underground scene?
Dan: I think there are a lot of bases covered in the underground scene, music wise. A lot of people don't want to stray to far out of their comfort zone though in to the more sonically extreme end of the spectrum. It's time that those who support the underground also support the under-underground.
Rodge: Do you play music yourself? Any projects we should know about?
Dan: I certainly do. I write and record dark ambient and noise music as well as more accessible electronic sounds in BLOOM. I'm best known for playing bass in Mastiff and being 1/3 of Catafalque though.
Rodge: What are your future plans for the Trepanation Recordings, and are there any releases in the pipeline you’d like to talk about?
Dan: There are so many amazing releases to look forward to. The ones I can talk about and have been announced in one form or another are R-13's bonkers jazz-grind opus, 'ANSIA', A Sea of Dead Trees stunning 'Boaby Coull' (proper post-rock awesomeness) and new albums from Of Wolves, Upcdownc and Bosphorus (I won't delve too deep in to these but keep your eyes peeled for upcoming announcement). There's also the small matter of a new Catafalque double album dropping in June. I've also started a digital only imprint called TrepanationDigital which will be releasing more obscure, smaller or previously released albums on an ad-hoc basis. As well as Bandcamp these will also be available on the Trepanation YouTube channel and all major streaming services.
We’d like to say a huge thank you to Dan for taking the time to answer our questions. You can check ut everything Trepanation Recordings has to offer here : https://trepanationrecordings.bandcamp.com/music